In today’s Gospel reading, Luke describes Jesus speaking in public for the first time. He speaks to his own people in the synagogue at Nazareth, where he was brought up. He reads the words of the prophet Isaiah, promising good news for the poor, freedom for prisoners, healing for the sick and justice for those who are downtrodden. And he tells his own people, ‘These words are being fulfilled today, even as you listen.’ The promises that God made to the people are being kept, in the life and ministry of Jesus.
Words are powerful. We can choose to speak words of love, or of hatred; words that build people up, or knock them down. Once we have spoken a word, it’s hard – or impossible – to take it back.
The words of Jesus are especially powerful. No one who heard him speaking was left untouched by him. Those who heard him either became his disciples, or his enemies. In the end, Jesus’ teaching made him too many powerful enemies, and they put him to death on the Cross.
The words of Jesus are still powerful today. He calls us to repent; to change our lives and accept God’s forgiveness. He challenges us to bring good news for the poor and the captives, the sick and the downtrodden. The words of Jesus are words that call us to action. We can’t ignore them.
The annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will be held from 18th-25th January. This year’s resources have been prepared by the churches of the Middle East, and are available at https://ctbi.org.uk/week-of-prayer-for-christian-unity-2022/ The theme is ‘We Saw his Star in the East.’
For this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we are pleased to welcome Rev Dr Stephanie Burette, Solway Fellow and Chaplain at University College, who will speak at both Masses on Sunday 23rd January.
Congratulations to Hugo Bell and Elsie Warrilow, who will celebrate the Sacrament of Baptism at St Cuthbert’s at 12 noon today, Sunday 23rd January. Please pray for them, and for their families.
The Parish Office is currently closed, to comply with the latest Government guidance on Covid safety. Please make all enquiries by email or telephone, and do not come to the office.
Bishop Robert and his advisers have reviewed the safety measures in our churches and other buildings, in the light of the spread of the Omicron variant. Whilst we are still able to safely gather in our churches, if all guidelines are followed, the same is not true for our church halls and meeting spaces. The Bishop has therefore asked that all such premises be closed, and all parish social activities suspended, until further notice.
Read the Bishop’s full statement at https://diocesehn.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Statement-from-Bishop-Robert-Byrne-17Dec21-v2.pdf ]
We will be reciting the Rosary in Church at 6:30pm each Friday. Please do come along and if you are willing to lead the Rosary one Friday then please contact Chimaobi at firstname.lastname@example.org or just have a word with her one Friday evening.
The Diocese is looking to appoint a Health and Safety Officer to co-ordinate and manage all aspects of health and safety across the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle. This will include, but is not limited to, ensuring that all Diocesan personnel are kept safe and that Diocesan properties and projects, and the associated activities are safe and without risk as far as is reasonably practicable. Full-time, permanent
Closing date for applications – 27 January. For further information and details of how to apply please visit www.diocesehn.org.uk or call on 0191 243 3301
Centre for Catholic Studies Online Book Launch: Towards a Politics of Communion: Catholic Social Teaching in Dark Times by Prof Anna Rowlands. Tuesday 25th January at 5.30pm, online. Details and registration at https://www.durham.ac.uk/research/institutes-and-centres/catholic-studies/about-us/events/book-launch—anna-rowlands/
Centre for Catholic Studies Book Launch: A Brief Systematic Theology of the Symbol by Joshua Mobley. Wednesday 2nd February, 6.00-7.15pm, online. Details and registration at https://centreforcatholicstudies.eventbrite.com
Women Who Changed the Church: a lecture series offered by the Margaret Beaufort Institute of Theology. Throughout history, women have consistently changed church practice, communities, and ideas. This eight lecture series explores inspirational women whose lives and actions have been transformational within the Church. This series is designed to open discussion spaces to celebrate, uncover, and critique the contributions of women to and throughout Church history. On Thursdays at 2.00pm, online, until 10th March. Cost £10. Details and registration at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/the-margaret-beaufort-institute-of-theology-33109216441
Holocaust Memorial Day is held every year on the 27th January, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex of camps in 1945. With regret, the Diocese has had to cancel the events planned to mark Holocaust Memorial Day this year. Details of an online event will be announced in due course.
World Leprosy Day is observed on Sunday 30th January. This year the St Francis Leprosy Guild are asking the Catholic community to reflect upon and pray for the work of the Catholic nuns who dedicate their lives to caring for people with leprosy. Details at https://diocesehn.org.uk/news/world-leprosy-day-2022-our-silent-heroes-catholic-nuns/
The guests at the wedding feast at Cana would include not only the families of the bride and groom, but all of their friends and neighbours, too; the whole village. The party might go on for several days. To run out of wine would be a disaster for the hosts, an embarrassment that would be talked about for years to come.
Jesus’ mother is the first to notice what is happening. She points out to her son that the wine is about to run dry. Jesus, at first, seems reluctant to get involved, even dismissive of his mother’s concern. ‘My hour has not come yet,’ he says. Jesus’ whole ministry was lived out in obedience to his Father’s will, and he didn’t yet sense that it was time to reveal himself to the world. But his mother’s request was enough to prompt him. This Gospel story shows us that we should never be afraid to ask God for what we need. It shows us, too, that God is generous with his gifts. Jesus provides more than 120 gallons of top-class wine for the feast – what a party it must have been.
John describes Jesus’ miracle as a sign. His mother had faith in him, telling the servants at the feast, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ After seeing what he had done, Jesus’ disciples believed in him too. The story of Cana tells us never to be shy about asking the Lord for what we need. He will be more generous than we can imagine.
The annual White Flower appeal on behalf of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) will be made by a local volunteer at both Masses at St Cuthbert’s this Sunday 16th January.
Peace Sunday is this Sunday, 16th January. The theme chosen by Pope Francis for this year is: ‘Dialogue between Generations, Education, Work and Dialogue: Tools for Building Lasting Peace.’ Details and resources at https://paxchristi.org.uk/peace-sunday-2022
The January edition of our diocesan newspaper is now on sale in the church porch, price £1.50; or you can read the paper online at www.northerncross.org.uk Please consider taking out a subscription (print or online) to support the Northern Cross.
Our annual Week of Guided Prayer will be held from Sunday 16th-Friday 21st January. A Week of Guided Prayer (also called a Retreat in Daily Life) brings the experience of an individually guided retreat to you, fitting around your work or study commitments. You have the opportunity to meet daily with a prayer guide and explore the Ignatian approach to prayer. The retreat is open to everyone – students, university staff and parishioners. Those who have taken part in past years have found it a worthwhile and enriching experience. For this year’s retreat, we hope to offer the option of either face-to-face or online meetings with your guide, while all the workshops will be presented online via Zoom. If you wish to take part in the Week of Guided Prayer, please contact Fr Andrew on email@example.com
Online training in Community Organising offered by Citizens UK. Details at https://diocesehn.org.uk/news/training-available-for-community-organising/
Interfaith Prayer Vigil at Derwentside Immigration Centre (Hassockfield). The Prayer Vigils take place on the first Sunday of the month meeting at 3.00pm with dates currently scheduled for Sundays 6 February, 6 March and 3 April.
Churches and faith communities are standing together against Derwentside Immigration Centre (Hassockfield) and the detention of women seeking asylum. Details at https://diocesehn.org.uk/news/new-dates-for-interfaith-prayer-vigil-at-derwentside-immigration-centre-hassockfield/
Today, on the last day of the Christmas season, we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. The people came to John the Baptist to be baptised, as a sign of repentance and the forgiveness of their sins. John was such a powerful witness that the people began to believe he might be the Saviour promised by God; so John told them clearly that he was merely the forerunner, sent to proclaim the Saviour’s coming.
Jesus is the Saviour. So why did he come to John for baptism? Because, as Son of God, he had come to share in everything that we experience. Even though Jesus was without sin himself, he was baptised in unity with us.
After Jesus’ baptism, while he was praying, the Holy Spirit came down on him, and he heard the voice of God the Father, telling him, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you.’ As Jesus began his mission of teaching and healing, he was encouraged by the voice of the Father who had sent him, and filled with the Spirit who would give him strength and guidance for his mission.
In his baptism, Jesus was united with us. In our own baptism, we were united with him. We were filled with the Holy Spirit, and sent out on a mission to the world. By our baptism, we were adopted as children of God, and Jesus is our brother. The words of God the Father are addressed to us, too: you are my beloved – my favour rests on you.